Concern has been registered after diabetes and other Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) have been identified as the leading causes of death.
The prevalence of chronic NCDs is said to be increasing at an alarming rate with deaths recorded every week.
Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) Superintendent, Tshepo Machacha said this is a cause for concern when giving welcome remarks at this year’s commemoration of the world diabetes day that was held at Molapo Crossing’s Superfit Gym yesterday.
It was commemorated under the theme, ‘The family and diabetes’.
Machacha said they registered deaths of people aged between 30 and 40 years on a weekly basis due to diabetes.
He called on people to change their lifestyles, exercise and lose weight as obesity has been identified as a major contributing factor to NCDs like diabetes.
He further said diabetes leads to other complications like kidney failure, stroke, blindness and affects manhood blood vessels that could lead to erectile dysfunction.
Giving an overview of diabetes epidemic in Botswana, NCDs coordinator for National Aids and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) Bame Shatera said worried by the escalating deaths due to NCDs, the government has decided to put more effort into prevention as 80% of NCDs are preventable.
She said they have put more effort in public awareness so that everyone can have knowledge and be informed on NCDs. She said with awareness they believe they can win the fight against NCDs as compared to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“HIV/AIDS used to be the leading cause of death, but with awareness we managed to change people’s behaviour and we managed to reduce the deaths.
Statistics shows that majority of people are not reactive towards testing themselves for NCDs hence being diagnosed very late when the disease has done enough damage,” she said.
Shatera challenged members of the community to know their health numbers being their blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass. She added that a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels help protect and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
Officiating at the event, Cuban ambassador to Botswana, Patricia Pego Guerra said there was a need for increased awareness, education and training on diabetes as family is the origin and main cell of social life. She said with accelerated growth in numbers of people affected, diabetes has become one of the most important global health problems.
She further said every year there were seven million new cases and every 10 seconds a patient dies from it. “About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, indeed this is one of the leading cases of deaths in the world and an increase by 333 million cases by 2025 is anticipated.
This will involve 6.5 percent of the world’s population leaving us with the question of, how can the burden of diabetes be reduced?” Guerra said.
She said this would require action based on a simple sustained lifestyle, avoiding tobacco use, identification of population groups at greater risk in order to implement health policies that can create environments conducive to achieving those changes.
Guerra said Cuba produces high-technology medicine named heberprot that was developed in 2006 by a Cuban research centre and is believed to be the best chance to saving lives.
She added that Botswana and Cuba back in 1977 established diplomatic relations. She said this cooperation in the health sector has always been an essential part in their relations.